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A Day in the life of Paula - What about the boy child?  

2021-11-12  Paula Christoph

A Day in the life of Paula - What about the boy child?  
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I was opening up to my friends the other day about how I fear for my daughter’s safety whenever I think of sending her away for the holidays.

I would love for her to visit her grandparents more, to have a relationship with them and to bond with cousins and extended family members, but I can’t help this fear at the back of my mind for her safety as a young girl child living in the world today. 

I trust they’ll be safe with their grandparents, but who knows who’ll be around, who lives down the street, who the neighbours are, and what their intentions are? 

You just never know who can be a pervert or a danger to her. In the same breath, I wondered out loud why these feelings aren’t as intense when it comes to our sons. We can be so overprotective of our girls yet under parent the boys.  

Many will agree with the notion that men are at the root of many societal problems – and just a couple of months ago, you probably would not have been able to tell me any different, but I have really started to look at it with more empathy. 

Now, I honestly think many of the issues society faces today stems from this lack of attention and intention with raising our boys. 

It often starts at home with parents who glorify backward customs and traditions, enabling negative behaviour, which encourages coping mechanisms, which could turn out to be detrimental later on in life. 

The boy child has been neglected – his feelings disregarded. 

In fact, he is taught to not feel nor express uncomfortable emotions; yet, we expect him to manage his emotions and communicate his feelings in a healthy manner later on in life. 

We sometimes spoil the boys and let them watch on as their sisters’ slave away – and expect them to learn about responsibility and be team players in their relationships in future. 

We encourage sexual liberation in boys, then turn around and tell the girls to evade the very same boys we encourage. 

We make excuses for toxic masculinity; ‘it’s just locker room talk’, or ‘boys will be boys’ at the expense of the dignity of the girl child. 

We watch closely over our girls but much less so over the boys. 

The boys are told to toughen up in most instances that would freak us out if it were the girl child. The reaction is different when it’s a girl, compared to a boy. 

We allow for some of these childhood traumas to happen as a result of the manner and mentality with which we allow the boy child to grow up.

Founder of the Young Men Movement in South Africa Kabelo Chabalala said: An ignored boy child is more dangerous than an ignored girl child... once the boy child becomes more ignored, he becomes even more dangerous to society. We feel so unsafe, so we need to teach him why we want to correct this injustice that we want to help the girl child be empowered and independent because of the injustice of the past – not just go about it and leave him out. 

 Hurt people hurt people – and if we continue to ignore, invalidate, and hurt our boys, they will give it back to us, knowingly or unknowingly. 

I am really trying to be more intentional about my parenting and especially the men I’m raising my boys to become. 

I believe we, as a generation of parents, can make a difference in how things play out for our children and grandchildren. 


Paula Christoph’s column concentrates on positive and inspirational write-ups every second Friday in the New Era newspaper.

2021-11-12  Paula Christoph

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